Office of International Services

Exceptions to Full-time Enrollment/Reduced Course Loads (RCLs)

The information on this page reflects F-1 / J-1 visa status-related policies and guidance of OIS and does not necessarily reflect or include the policies or requirements of other units on campus, such as the Graduate School.
Before reviewing these exceptions, students should determine if their enrollment is full-time or less than full-time.

To qualify for the Student Blue Insurance students must meet minimum enrollment requirements (one credit for graduate students; six credits for undergraduate students). To drop below these levels international students must demonstrate proof of "other" credible insurance before OIS can approve the RCL.

For students that are enrolled less than full-time, the following are situations in which it MAY be possible, necessary and appropriate for OIS to authorize an RCL:

  1. If the student is medically unable to maintain a full-time course load (with letter of recommendation from Counseling Center or physician).
  2. If a student is having difficulty during the first semester of enrollment due to (1) initial difficulties with the English language or (2) with the reading requirements.
  3. If the student has been placed in or advised by their academic advisor to take a course at an improper course level OR if a student is unfamiliar with American teaching methods (with letter of explanation from DGP/Advisor).
  4. If the student is in his/her final semester.

RCLs for Medical Reasons:
RCLs for medical reasons require documentation from a medical professional who can attest to the difficulty and explain why a reduction in course load is recommended. With a medical RCL it is permissible to drop some or all courses and the RCL is valid for only one semester at a time but may be renewed each semester for up to one year if necessary. Following the semester(s) of RCL it is expected that the student will continue to enroll as a full-time student unless it is the student’s final semester. Please do not drop below full-time - or fail to register full-time - until you receive confirmation that the RCL request is approved in SEVIS.

The RCL form plus accompanying documentation should be submitted in person during an appointment with an OIS advisor.

Students on the GSSP may not be eligible for an RCL - consult both your DGP and the GSSP coordinator.


Academic Hardship RCLs:
RCLs for academic difficulty reasons require completion, submission and OIS approval of the RCL Form BEFORE dropping below full-time. The DGP / Academic Advisor must indicate on the form the academic reason for the RCL request and in signing the form indicate that they do not object (from an academic advising perspective) to the student receiving an academic RCL for that stated reason. The OIS Advisor may need to request, or the DGP / Academic Advisor may wish to provide, additional information related to the academic circumstances which justify the academic RCL. A student may not drop below half of the required credits that make up a full time semester. Students should not drop below full-time - or fail to register full-time - until first receiving approval of the RCL from an OIS advisor.

The RCL form plus accompanying documentation should be submitted in person during an appointment with an OIS advisor.

Students on the GSSP may not be eligible for an RCL - consult both your DGP and the GSSP coordinator.


Final Semester RCLs:
If a student is in his/her final semester and will be considered to be enrolled less than full-time, that student should submit his/her completed RCL form before the first day of the requested semester. He/she should pre-register for the intended number of reduced credits. A scheduled appointment is not required for paperwork submission but is encouraged if a student has questions/concerns about program completion in his final semester. An RCL authorized for a final semester (which shortens the Program End Date in SEVIS to that semester) cannot be extended. A student MUST complete his/her program by the end of the semester. If a student or academic advisor anticipates a significant delay in completion beyond the anticipated final semester, please speak with an OIS advisor as soon as possible. The RCL form may be submitted in person at OIS or via e-mail.

Students on the GSSP may not be eligible for an RCL - consult both your DGP and the GSSP coordinator.


Note: Thesis and Dissertation students requesting RCL's must provide on the RCL Form the date of their already-scheduled defense date, and that date must be on or before the "Registration Required ETD Review Deadline / Apply to Graduate Deadline / Doctoral Graduation Attendance Notification (DGAN) Deadline". Students who have not already scheduled their defense to occur before this date do not qualify for the final semester RCL.